Are you sure you aren’t exaggerating?

Source: Eleanor Skelton
Source: Eleanor Skelton

You just decided you had a terrible childhood after attending a liberal college, right? You got influenced by the Secular Humanism.

Actually…no.

I kept journals growing up.

Eleven of them, to be exact. Some were diaries, some were prayer journals.

  • Diary 1: August 1998 to December 2000
  • Diary 2: December 2000 to December 2010
  • Diary 3: June 2011 to September 2013
  • Prayer journal 1: December 2004 to November 2005
  • Prayer journal 2: November 2005 to April 2011
  • Prayer journal 3: April 2011 to August 2013

The other notebooks are a dream journal, a list of favorite Bible verses, a roster of people to pray for, and a journal filled with quotes and notes from family and friends.

Many times I was happy, or at least trying to be happy. I loved my family. Many times, I was not. And I wrote about it.

Here’s some excerpts.

October 31, 2002: “I feel like I’m always in trouble. I can’t seem to do anything right. I try my best. [….] I cry a lot at night because I have bottled up feelings all day and I need to let it out.”

November 1, 2002: “I feel like everyone’s pasttime is to make fun of me. [….] I can’t do anything right.”

January 4, 2003: “Will Mom ever understand how much her words hurt me? [….] Mom wasn’t any comfort. I wanted her to be, but she was harsh and unfeeling.”

After a spanking with the belt. I was 13.

January 20, 2003: “I am in trouble every day, or so it seems. My mom and dad are pleased every time I show them a good test grade […] but the pleasure doesn’t seem to last long. I am crying and I don’t know exactly why.”

September 30, 2004: “I wish Dad wanted to visit with people more. Oh, well. He does provide for us very well. I hope God will change Dad’s heart.”

A few years later, the entries get more detailed.

April 22, 2010: “I don’t understand why my family has so much emotional pain in it. I don’t feel like I can please Mom and Dad, [sister] doesn’t feel like she can please Mom and Dad, etc. Mom and Dad are so busy and so stressed that they are often not very loving towards us either.  [Sister] feels like there is a lot of hurt in our family and hides up in her room all the time. I don’t understand why we all aren’t nicer to each other and more understanding. There’s a lot of pain beneath the surface. Everyone suffers their own pain and can’t see everyone else’s. And no one helps anyone else. And Mom just gets angry and takes it the wrong way if I try to point out how she has hurt me or [sister]. No one is willing to help things change. I don’t understand. I have prayed about it for so long now. It never seems to get any better permanently. We just go through cycles of more and more pain. I am beginning to think God must be letting things go on like this for a reason. But then I wish it was just me who always had hidden hurt. [Sister] and [brother] are so young and malleable and hurt can affect the rest of their lives. Sometimes I feel like running away not coming back. But I feel like [sister] and [brother] need me, especially [sister]. I know she has a lot of pain inside, and I don’t know how to help her.”

May 20, 2010: “Still having a lot of the same issues. I realize that in some ways, I create my own problems, but there are other things beyond my control. I feel like Mom and Dad take me for granted. Since I did well my first semester, they sort of assume I will do well and don’t appreciate the work that goes into it. I am having very dark thoughts tonight. I often wish for death to end all the pain I have inside, but I know [sister] really needs me and that really keeps me going. I have vowed to Jesus that I will never commit suicide, and I mean by His grace to keep that vow. Life just hurts so much sometimes. I can’t stop crying right now. […] All my emotions get all bottled up in me these days.”

August 8, 2010: “I feel like I push myself really hard about school and all, but I never seem to do enough to meet Mom and Dad’s expectations. I don’t have very much time at all to do something fun, or just relax, which I think is kind of unhealthy. [….] It’s not wrong to rest – Jesus even called the disciples aside to rest. I sort of think maybe my family doesn’t know how to rest.”

My prayer journals are less honest, but I was always praying to be less prideful and depressed and more submissive, better able to accept unfairness in life, because Jesus suffered more than I ever could.

It’s painful to revisit, like a giant headache.

And this is another reason why I left fundamentalism.

I was always writing and scrapbooking, trying to capture my life. I don’t know why. Maybe I knew I’d need it later.

But as Shaney Lee argued this past week on Ryan Stollar’s blog, please believe us when we tell you our past still hurts. Not everyone documents their pain. But that doesn’t make it less real.

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2 thoughts on “Are you sure you aren’t exaggerating?

  1. Much love, doll. I don’t have all of my old journals. I wished I’d journaled more, to begin with. Remembering and starting to heal takes longer when… well, you have to really remember. On your own. Thank God for the internet and being able to connect with people—I thought for a LONG time that we must have just been a weird family.

    Liked by 1 person

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